Submitted: April 24, 2001
visual way to teach the concept of prime factorization is by literally
creating a factor "tree." About half way up on a piece
of brown construction paper, have students draw a basic tree trunk.
Then have them tear leaves out of green paper and glue them on
to the trunk. Label the trunk with a number that needs to be factored
such as 24. Create the "roots" of the tree as you break
the number down into its factors. Still using 24 as an example,
draw two "roots' branching out from the base of the trunk
and label them 4 and 6. Then each of those roots will branch out
to create factors of their own-4 branches out into 2 x 2 and 6
branches out to 2 x 3. All of those numbers are prime so the factor
"tree" is complete. You will probably want to assign
a different number to each individual or small group. You may
even want to challenge your students to create a factor "tree"
with complex root system for a large number such as 128. If they
can do that, they certainly understand the concept of prime factorization.